Today is Veterans Day, the one day a year where we as a country should come together and celebrate the hard work that the men and women of the armed services do every day to make the world a better place. For many veterans that dedication to service was the motivating factor to join the military, and as such, many continue to serve in other ways after returning to the civilian world. Some veterans are drawn to public service — becoming police officers or firefighters — the medical field, or other skilled trades. Others utilize the leadership skills they developed while serving to go on to start their own businesses and non-profits. Here’s a list of five veteran-owned organizations that are making a difference in the world.
Five Paragraph Business Plan
This business is the brainchild of Michael Penney, co-host of the now-on-hiatus podcast Cigars and Sea Stories. Five Paragraph Business Plan is an organization that helps veterans (and civilians) start their own small business, no matter what type. Penney, a former Marine and Iraq & Afghanistan vet, has long been an advocate for veteran-owned small businesses, and his Five Paragraph system brings the theories of military operations planning to the civilian world.
Jim Ritterhoff and Rudy Reyes founded Force Blue while the pair were scuba diving in the Cayman Islands. Reyes, of Generation Kill fame, openly struggled with post-traumatic stress but found that SCUBA diving was “life-changing” therapy. According to the organization’s website, Reyes and his partners wanted other former military-personnel, specifically other combat divers, to benefit from the experience. However, always looking for an opportunity to serve, Reyes and the other men formed Force Blue with the goal of not only helping veterans through diving but to also utilize their combat dive skills for helping the environment. Through what the organization calls “mission-therapy,” former combat divers use their skills to promote marine conservation, all while giving them the purpose and meaning that many veterans long for after leaving the military.
I was first introduced to Team Rubicon by a NEWSREP reader who suggested that I research the organization, as it does fantastic work. Founded in 2010 by two friends and US Marines, Jake Wood and William McNulty, in the wake of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that devastated Haiti, Team Rubicon brings veterans and volunteers together to provide aid and support to communities during natural disasters. According to the organization’s website, more than 65,000 volunteers are currently registered with Team Rubicon, and the organization is expanding to other countries through Team Rubicon Global. Currently, the organization is working in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to provide medical support to people affected by Super Typhoon Yutu.
Black Rifle Coffee Company
Probably the most well-known company on this list, thanks in large part to the organization’s successful social media advertising campaigns, Black Rifle Coffee Company is veteran-owned and strives to hire as many veterans as possible. Aside from making great coffee, the company also donates a portion of their sales on select products to a variety of causes, and features veterans in their advertising. Black Rifle is owned by founder Evan Hafer, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Final Salute’s mission is simple — support and aid homeless women veterans and their children. Founded in 2010 by US Army veteran Jasmine Boothe, the group now runs transitional housing units for women veterans and their children, while also providing support services like case management and transportation. The group also provides financial support to help female veterans avoid homelessness.